Apparently, challenging the Maryland State Department of Education during a public meeting with parents and teachers in attendance is a criminal offense. A video capturing a Maryland parent being forcibly removed from a school meeting and arrested after questioning a new state-led education standards initiative has gone viral over the past few days. The parent was charged with assaulting a police officer and disrupting a school function and was facing up to 10 years in jail if convicted.
“I want to know how many parents here are aware that the goal of Common Core standards isn’t to prepare our children for full-fledged universities, it’s to prepare them for community college,” said 46-year-old parent Robert Small at a Thursday night school meeting between parents, teachers and administrators that was held by the Maryland State Department of Education in Towson, a suburb of Baltimore.
The Huffington Post has more on the incident and arrest:
Small, who has two kids in the area’s public schools, went on to briefly explain his opposition to the Common Core, an education initiative incentivized by the federal government and designed to “establish a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade [students],” according to the initiative’s official website.
An off-duty Baltimore police officer moonlighting as a security guard arrived to escort Small from the meeting. When Small didn’t immediately follow the officer, the officer yanked him forcefully toward the aisle, prompting gasps from the audience.
“Parents, take control,” Small says as he is led out of the room. As the officer pulls out handcuffs, Small can be heard saying, “I’m not an activist, I’m a parent. I have a right to speak.”
The meeting, which was held in order to explain the Common Core to parents, according to The Baltimore Sun, was conducted in a format where school administrators selected pre-submitted questions from parents.
Small is charged with two misdemeanors: assaulting an officer and disrupting a school function, Baltimore County Police told The Huffington Post over the phone Monday.
Although Small does not appear to be touching the officer in the video, the police report says he “continued to yell and pushed the officer” once the pair was out of view of the camera, Baltimore police spokesperson Elise Armacost told HuffPost. “That is the basis for the assault charge.”
Small faces up to 10 years in jail for the assault charge alone.
When contacted by The Huffington Post, the Maryland State Department of Education declined to comment, saying the incident fell under the local police department’s jurisdiction. The Baltimore County Department of Education did not respond to our request for comment.
Update (Sept. 24, 2013, 8:55 a.m.): All charges against Robert Small have been dropped, the Baltimore County state attorney confirmed to The Huffington Post Tuesday. In a statement, the state attorney’s office said the police officer acted appropriately in making the arrest but that further prosecution would not accomplish anything, the Baltimore Sun reported.